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Saturday, December 3, 2011

"Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it - every, every minute?"  Thornton Wilder


The farmers neatly shave the soybean fields scuttling non-stop to prepare for the coming winter.  There is no lush greenness left here but a dull, monotonous brown.  A  sepia tint begins to cover the earth robbing it of all but man made vibrancy. There is no time for idleness yet.  Much needs to be accomplished before winter blasts the fields, barns, and houses claiming them in her frigid embrace.  So many farmers have other jobs now to make ends meet, and farming in this area is now a side occupation requiring the use vacation days. They do not  complain:  they do what needs to be done. The harvest is mostly gathered, but for every minute there is a chore that must be completed.  Fences are mended and barns and silos filled in preparation for the earth's slumber. There will be time to sit in the easy chair in front of a blazing fire and dream of the coming spring and birth, the completion of the cycle, but that time is not yet here.

The cacophonous chorus of insects in spring and summer softens to a murmur heard only in isolated places, and bird calls are few and far between. Silence becomes a theme. As I ride along,  I realize that in a sense I have come to define the seasons by the landscape and my feelings from the seat of a bicycle.

Before Eddie Doerr moved, he told me that one thing that bothered him about this area was that he had grown to know all the roads, every pot hold and curve, and there is some truth in that;  but I have come to find that in many important ways he is wrong.  Every day brings changes, however minute: perhaps  it is we who become inured to our surroundings, like the archetypical husband who comes home from a bad day at work drained and causes a tear rather than a smile when he fails to notice a new hair cut or a new outfit or some other small thing meant to please.  The fault, perhaps, lies in us rather than in this world we inhabit.  Could we stand the constancy of wonder?  Albert Einstein once said, "There are two ways to live. You can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle." Do we really see with our eyes? Every day brings changes, and even the dulling landscape has its beauty.  I grieve for how much I miss, for my inability to appreciate all the small changes.

In this season of giving thanks, may every ride on your bicycle be filled with beauty and wonder.  There are those that cannot ride, and there are those that cannot see.  There are those that can't hear the impending silence because their world is always silent.  Rather than cursing the impending gloom of winter, may we embrace it as it will give us an appreciation of the other seasons that we experience on our bicycles. May we take notice of the way the sun dances on the frost causing it to sparkle like thousands of diamonds laid along our path, or the way the trees become sharper silhouettes against the winter sky. My we appreciate the feel of a warm jacket as the cold air slashes around us, angry at not being able to enter our very core. May we  notice the way winter enhances the smells of the world making them crisper. The day will come for each of us when we can no longer ride our bicycles: may it be later rather than sooner.  And may the memories that you are making now make you smile. May you realize life "every, every minute."